After finishing third in the SAFF U-18 Women’s Championship, the Indian U-18 Girls National Team sets eyes towards the AFC U-19 Women’s Championship Qualifiers that kicks-off from October 20 in Thailand.
With India drawn in Group B alongside hosts Thailand, Nepal, and Pakistan, Head Coach Alex Ambrose is aiming from qualification to the final round of the AFC U-19 Women’s Championship. In an interview, the former India International talks at length about the team’s SAFF campaign, the AFC qualifiers, and a lot more.
What was your assessment of India’s performance in the SAFF Championship?
We dominated every match we played in the SAFF Championship and created chances at will. The players performed well to the requirements of the system that we are trying to implement and worked hard on and off the pitch to understand it thoroughly.
The team has made up the skeleton of the playing system and the players are reacting positively to it. It is only a matter of time before results start coming our way as this team has potential to go a long way.
India lost to Nepal 3-1 in the penalty shootout in the semifinals.
You cannot control the result in penalties. We could have won the match in ninety minutes had we taken our chances but finishing is one of our weak points and we have already started to work vigorously on it in our preparation for the AFC Qualifiers.
It is time for us to get back to the drawing board, double our preparations for the AFC U-19 Qualifiers, and emerge a much efficient side when we play Nepal again in the Qualifiers.
How did the SAFF U-18 Women’s Championship help in preparing for the AFC U-19 Women’s Championship qualifiers?
We tested a lot of permutations and combinations throughout the Championship and gave playing time to almost each player including all three goalkeeper. At the same time, we juggled with tactics and their implementation as well.
Competitive playing experience will certainly aid the players in their preparation for the AFC Qualifiers and the players now know how to react under high stress situations.
India could potential qualify for the AFC U-19 Women’s Championship, in a historic first.
We all know the gravity of the AFC U-19 Women’s Championship qualifiers and what it will mean for Indian football if we qualify. Still, we should not jump the gun. There is a lot of work to be done in our preparation for the upcoming Championship and there is still a lot of room for improvement. We are focusing at the improvement and development aspect first.